Throwback Thursday – Fort Williams in Glasgow

We haven’t visited any Civil War history in a couple months, so we’re paying a visit to nearby Glasgow to find out more about the site of Fort Williams. A Union fort built in 1863 to hold off Confederate General John hunt Morgan’s violent raids across the Mason Dixon lines, Fort Williams was the Union stronghold in Barren County.

Going back almost 160 years, our country was in the midst of a Civil War. While our Commonwealth was divided with both northern and southern sympathizers, the Glasgow area was still a stronghold for the Union. The Confederate troops were destroying vital Union transportation and communication locations in Kentucky. By 1863, Confederate armies were inching closer to the Louisville & Nashville railroad connections and supply depot in Glasgow, as General John Hunt Morgan was on the loose pillaging all over the southcentral part of the state. 

Glasgow decided to build a fort in spring of that year, under the direction of Lieutenant Miles D. McAlister, a chief engineer. His figure-eight shaped design with an enclosed fort allowed it to withstand attacks from every angle. The fort was armed with cannons ranging from six to 24 pounds. It was officially named Fort Williams in November 1863, in honor of Union General Thomas Williams, who had already been killed in battle.

General Williams was a soldier for most of his life, having been born in New York in 1815 and joining the military in 1832. He was appointed to attend West Point in 1833 and graduated four years later. When the Civil War began, General Williams was an instructor at the artillery school at Virginia’s Fort Monroe. He was assigned command in Louisiana and spent much of the war occupying New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He died in August 1862 when Confederate General John Breckenridge attacked Baton Rouge.

Remnants of Fort Williams can still be found in Glasgow, along with its historic marker.